Well, we should come up with something appropriate to the day, shouldn’t we? Once again, I raid my former online home, specifically traipsing through the two hundred installments of weekly exercises in crowdsourced music lists. Below is the prompt I provided to my far-more-brilliant-than-I cohorts on March 17th, 2006. My quintet is included below, and the responses of others have been used to fill out a YouTube playlist to accompany cheery pint-hoisting, if you’re so inclined. Spoiler alert: There are a lot of Pogues songs on there.
Five Songs for St. Patrick’s Day
1. The Pogues, “Lorelei.” “You told me tales of love and glory/Same old sad songs, same old story/The sirens sing no lullaby/and no one knows but Lorelei.” One of the rare instances pre-Hell’s Ditch that finds Shane MacGowan off lead vocal duties, its a lovely ballad about lost love and deep sadness where his grand gargle would indeed have been a distraction. That doesn’t mean we’re talking about some lilting, soft thing you might find on a rummage sale album of Irish favorites. It absolutely has it’s own fullness and drive, marking it a distinct product of the Pogues.
2. The Drovers, “Insulated Man.” The only place you can find this song is on the soundtrack to the film Blink, which weirdly casts Madeleine Stowe as the violin player for the Chicago band The Drovers. I never fully connected with the Irish bar rock of the Drovers, but I love this song. It’s one of those that builds and builds and builds. It’s the perfect song to play as the tavern is burning down around you.
3. The Saints, “Grain of Sand.” Get it? Get it? The Saints…St. Patrick’s Day…Ahhh, wocka wocka! The Australian band started in 1977 cranking out little bursts of punk greatness and eventually evolved into just a simple, strong rock band. This is a big, energizing song about feeling insignificant, but until I check the lyrics right before posting this, I never realized that “My tongue was covered in fur/So I shoved it in my pocket” was among the things Chris Bailey sang on the song.
4. Too Much Joy, “Drunk and In Love.” It was handy in college to have a much-loved smart-mouthed band that also sang a lot about beer. While “King of Beers” (“I am invincible/I have no fear!”) is the one that tends to get dragged out for celebratory drinking excursions, this song nicely covers the feelings that just might overtake you if you’re still in the bar about two or three hours later. The lyrics perfectly captures a guy rambling endlessly about the woman he’s in love with (“She’s asleep in some other time zone/I’m with a friend who wonders where I’ve been/I wanna tell her why she’s so amazing/She’s not here, so I’ll just tell him”) as he considers indulging in the dreaded drunken dial. One of the last songs the band recorded before they finally gave up playing Don Quixote to the music industry’s windmill.
5. Iggy Pop, “Lust For Life.” Because before Trainspotting made it ubiquitous, finding this song on the jukebox was a sign you’d found the right bar. And, for whatever reason, it was usually an Irish bar where we found it (come to think of it, that may have more to do with the fact that we sought out the Irish bars). But more to the point, on St. Patty’s day you have to raise a pint to a bonny Irish lass, so here’s to Trainspotting’s Kelly Macdonald. For today, we’ll ignore the fact that she’s actually Scottish.